With one day left for the U.S. Congress to avert $85 billion in automatic spending cuts for federal programs across the country, dubbed the Sequester, Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley sent this letter to faculty Thursday night laying out exactly what those cuts could mean for Long Island's largest state university.
To all Faculty and Staff,
Across-the-board spending cuts will be triggered tomorrow if Congress cannot reach a deal on sequestration. The ramifications of this self-induced crisis are extraordinary. Non-defense discretionary spending will be cut by 5.1 percent. As a result, universities throughout the United States stand to lose millions and millions of dollars in research funding. At Stony Brook University alone, more than $7.6 million in various federally-funded research and education programs will be lost should sequestration go into effect.
The loss of vital federal funding affects everyone. Our ability to discover breakthroughs in medicine which save lives and to create technologies that become part of everyday life will be undermined. Consider the drug ReoPro, a medication used to prevent heart attacks during and after coronary artery procedures, and which has been used to help treat millions of patients since its introduction in 1995. This life-saving drug was developed by researchers at Stony Brook after 20 years of platelet research supported from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). And the next time you purchase an item at the store note that the advancement of barcode scanner technology is the result of National Science Foundation (NSF) supported research conducted at Stony Brook. Have you "Googled" lately? If so, keep in mind that the world's first freely available web browser was created with support from NSF-funded research at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. These transformational discoveries are just a few examples among countless advances Stony Brook and its sister institutions have contributed to our nation and the world.
The threat sequestration poses will not only impact research conducted at universities but thousands of students at higher education institutions around the nation. Federal Work Study programs, which provide low- and middle-income students the opportunity to work part-time while they are in school, stand to lose nearly $50 million in federal support. In New York, the State University of New York (SUNY) projects Federal Work Study losses of $4.41 million for 2012-2013. This blow will adversely impact approximately 650 students at Stony Brook, where an estimated $63,000 in cuts to both Federal Work Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) programs will occur should sequestration become a reality. Such cuts would affect some of our most economically disadvantaged students and would be felt by similarly positioned students across the country. These consequences are simply unacceptable. Student diversity and access to higher education should be among our nation's top priorities.
It is imperative to our nation's future that a compromise be quickly reached that avoids the punishing effects of sequestration, and invests in our research universities and our students. The time is truly upon us to seize what has been characterized as our generation's "Sputnik moment" once and for all. There is far too much at stake if we fail to do so.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.